Hi all.  Having grown up in a musical family, I've been exposed to jazz and classical music as a kid which dad and mom would listen to.  I've played several instruments and would attend live music (e.g. saw Oscar Peterson at the Burlington, ON library in the basement for FREE in the '70s), so moving into the audiophile world was a no-brainer once funds became available.  Below are a few thoughts around why I bought the equipment I did and the importance of adding acoustic treatments to further the enjoyment. Thanks for reading!   .... Kevin


I've always had box speakers so wanted to try electrostatics.  The size of the SoundLabs means they also do low bass (~30Hz) which is augmented by a pair of servo-controlled subs by Rythmik.  A Dayton Audio OmniMic is used to optimize the placement of speakers, subs, and acoustic treatments.  I like a tilted upwards bass curve meaning that 25Hz is about 15dB louder than 100Hz in a pretty linear straight line.  Much experimentation has gone into SoundLab placement and front wall treatments.  When the speakers are too far from the front wall all songs sounded like reverb had been added to them, and too close to the front wall collapsed the soundstage depth and introduced phase issues.  The best distance was 5' front back to speaker to front wall. Just as important as distance was front wall treatment:  Absorption killed the "live" sound I prefer, Diffusion (QRDs, Skylines) was better at keeping the live sound, but the best solution was a bit of absorption behind the speakers with diffusion mid front wall. This allowed the details to be presented along with the "live" like sound.

Digital files are managed by JRiver and fed to exaSound DAC which handles all file types and offers headphone listening.  An old Sony 5-disc player is used to play CDs picked up at garage sales to know if I enjoy them enough to rip to my laptop music server.

Tubes have always sounded a bit better to my ear than solid state so have selected a solidly built preamp (PrimaLuna) and time tested amp (VAC) with the magic of 300B tubes.  With two 300B tubes per channel, it puts out 32watts/channel which is enough to drive the speakers to levels I enjoy.



Having built a dedicated music room in my previous house, I was appalled at how bad it sounded without any acoustic treatments.  So I began studying the physics of small room acoustics and bought and built my own treatments which began a multi-year education and experimentation process.  I'm a huge fan of how much of an improvement room treatments can make despite the room looking more like a recording studio which I'm fine with.  The Dayton OmniMic is critical for seeing what you're hearing in real-time so placement adjustments can be made.  NOTE: just because the room measures well doesn't necessarily mean it sounds best I learned.  The ears/brain must be able to detect things the mic didn't . . .


Room Details

Dimensions: 25’ × 11’  Medium
Ceiling: 8’

Components Toggle details

    • HP Laptop (music server) with JRiver and JRemote software HP Pavilion
     running JRiver and JRemote music mgmt software and ASIO Windows drivers for the DAC
    • AudioQuest UltraJitterBug
    USB noise suppressor
    • AudioQuest Diamond USB A-B digital cable from laptop to DAC
    • exaSound DAC with Teddy Pardo power supply e48 8 multichannel DAC
    Wonderful DAC that supports all DSD hi-res formats and hi-res PCM.
    Great headphone amp and preamp too!
    I use 4 of the eight channels to do speaker-by-speaker tailoring of parameters to optimize the sound quality.  The DAC is the foundation upon which JRiver's DSP functionality comes to life by being able to control hi/low-pass frequency and slopes, delay, phase, polarity, gain, and parametric EQ for each individual speaker and sub!  It's like a manual Audyssey for a 2.2 stereo rather than a home theatre ....
    • PrimaLuna DiaLogue Premium preamp
    Heavy and solidly built preamp.
    Using Tung-Sol 5AR4 and Genalex ECC82 Gold Lion tubes
    Comes with a metal remote that must weigh 2-3lbs!!
    • SELLING: Bryston 10B STD active crossover
    (The Bryston active crossover is used to limit the low bass going to the 300B tube amp and redirect it to the pair of Rythmik subs.  The 10B is incredibly flexible with separate crossover frequency and slope settings for each channel (Hipass Left, Hipass Right, Lowpass Left, Lowpass Right).  After trying about 200 different combinations of settings I found the best setting at 100Hz and 6dB for the mains and 100Hz and 18dB for the subs.)
    • Valve Amplification Company (VAC) Renaissance 30/30
    300B SET amp with two 300B tubes/channel producing 32watts/ch. 
    Using Genalex PX300B Gold Lion tubes and Tung-Sol 6SN7GTB tubes
    to drive my 87dB efficient speakers with surprising ease!
    • Sound Lab A-3PX
    Dipole electrostatic speakers standing nearly 75” tall and 3 feet wide each panel.
    Because there is very little sound energy from the speaker's sides I placed them very close to each side wall as the room width is only 11 feet and change wide.  They are toed-in about 10 degrees and pulled 8' from the front wall behind them.  There is a 3-high stack of RPG Skyline diffusers about 5.5' behind the speaker to scatter the rear firing sound waves. More diffusion is placed mid wall on the front wall with thick bass traps behind and below it.
    • Rythmik F15 subs
    Two F15 servo controlled subs (15" drivers, 300watt plate amps ea.) cut over around 50Hz serving the bottom octaves.
    Each is placed halfway across the room's width with one near the front wall and the second near the back wall.  
    Freq cutoff, phase/delay, volume and a one-band PEQ are used on each sub so that together with the main speakers I get a smooth tilted up bass curved below 100Hz.  Meaning that 25Hz is about 12-15dB louder than 100Hz which sounds better to my ears and generally falls in line with the equal loudness curves of how our ears work (i.e. less sensitive to lower frequencies hence the bass boost).
    • OnFilter CleanSweep EMI AC Filter
    Two industrial AC line noise filters that really work!!  They reduce EMI/RFI and surges and are small black boxes with 2 outlets each.  One box is used for the amp and a heavy duty Tripp Lite powerstrip/bar that powers the DAC, preamp, and main speakers while the second box powers the pair of subwoofers.  When using a EMI noise measurement tool, the OnFilter did significantly better than the audiophile line filter conditioner previously used.
    • Foundation Research LC1
    Line conditioning filter used for the DAC.
    • Isotek EVO3 Syncro
    DC cancelling power cord feeding the VAC amp.
    • Teo Audio Game Changer (GC) II interconnects
    Liquid metal interconnects between DAC->preamp and preamp->amp
    • Audio Sensibility Statement
    Speakers cables
    • Cardas Audio Cardas Clear Power cord
    Used on the Rythmik subwoofers.
    • Audience AudienceChord Power cord
    Used on the amp and preamp
    • Salamander Designs Synergy amp stands - 2 of them (for preamp and amp)
    • RPG Skyline Diffusers
    The 7" depth version is used on the front wall to scatter the rear-firing sound waves.  I tried bass traps and lots of absorption but it didn't sound natural and lost much of the "liveliness" so was swapped out for diffusion instead.

    Also placed on sidewalls by my listening chair.
    • GIK Acoustics QRD diffusers
    These are 7" depth and 9 of them (3 columns of 3) are positioned on the back wall about 7' from the listening chair.
    • GIK Acoustics Tritraps and Monster bass traps
    TriTraps are placed on the floor / side wall corner along the left wall and also on the floor / back wall corner.  
    Two stacked Monster bass traps are placed in the middle of the front wall.
    • DIY acoustic treatments Skyline Diffuser
    501 blocks of wood ranging from 0 - 10.5” in 1.5” increments and effectively diffuses down to 645Hz and likely another half to one octave lower.  Prime number used was 547.  It hangs on the left side wall about half way between where the listening chair and back wall are.
    • DIY acoustic treatment Hemi-Cylindrical Diffuser
    DIY hemi-cylindrical diffuser (i.e. polyfuser) and bass trap for back wall corners. Started out as a 12' long 48" diameter SONO tube used for concrete pillars. I added Owens Corning 701 fiberglass for bass absorption and covered it in black speaker cloth. Total thickness of 30” means it absorbs down to about 65Hz while the curved hard surface diffuses/scatters mids and high frequencies.
    • Dayton Audio OmniMic Precision Measurement System
    Used to optimize the following:
    * speaker's location 
    * two subwoofer's locations
    * effect of adding, moving, removing acoustical treatments to the room (i.e. Freq Response and Reverb Time).

Comments 10

Showing all comments by jab.

View all comments

I am surprised it works so well, I am happy for you. Many years ago I purchased a set of Maggie 1.6 and my 30/30 could not control the bass. I kept the 30 /30, great amp.

That amp and those speakers, wow, sonic bliss.


Are you running those Sound labs with the 30/30?